French tourist in shock over China train wreck

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The Frenchman broke six of his ribs and was separated from his family.

29 April 2008

ZIBO - Frenchman Pascal Boisson is still in shock at what happened to him when the train he was riding on derailed in eastern China, breaking six of his ribs and separating his family.

He had been travelling with his son, daughter and a friend when their train careered off the track and slammed into another train, leaving 70 dead and up to 420 injured in China's worst rail crash in a decade.

"I still can't believe what happened, it was dark and the train just turned upside down," he told AFP, grimacing with pain from the broken ribs.

"I don't remember much of what happened. After the train turned over, all I remember was that we were there in the dark, waiting."

Boisson's train had been was travelling from Beijing to the coastal city of Qingdao when the accident occurred early Monday morning.

It took rescuers in Shandong province more than an hour to arrive at the scene of the accident. When help did turn up, it took another two hours for Boisson and his daughter to be transported to one hospital in Zibo, while his son and travelling companion were dispatched to two separate hospitals.

"I don't know how we all got separated," he said.

"I want them to bring (my son) Pierre here right now, we should all be in the same hospital. He is only 14 years old and he doesn't speak any Chinese."

A team of nurses sought to console the Bordeaux native, telling him that his family would be reunited in the coming days, but doctors at the other hospitals were seeking to first stabilise all the injuries.

Boisson said he could not find his passport, credit cards or luggage.

Earlier, China's Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang visited Boisson and his daughter and urged the hospital to give them the best care possible, hospital officials said.

Boisson had arrived in China only days before for a 10-day trip to visit his daughter, Joanne, 22, who was studying in Beijing.

Doctors said his son had broken bones in his shoulder and arm, while his travelling companion would need an operation on Tuesday.

Joanne, a student at Beijing's Tsinghua University, had a leg injury but was able to visit her brother on Monday afternoon.

"This was supposed to be a nice trip, we were so happy to arrive in Beijing to see Joanne," Boisson said.

"We were going to Qingdao to see the coast, this was really going to be a nice trip."

[AFP / Expatica]

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